On November 5th, after President Obama and a Democratic Congress has been solidly reelected (God willing!), I am strongly suggesting that he take a drastic, series of actions to put a halt to the burgeoning madness of the gun culture of this country. Because the gun lobby is such a powerful, insidious and dangerous influence, and because their Republican allies in Congress are so supportive of their aims, the actions must be done by presidential decrees.
Everyone knows what these decrees must do but no one seems to have the guts to stand up to the National Rifle Association. It's obvious that gun sales must be restricted sharply, especially military-style weapons, and the sale of humungous ammunition-clips with it. It must be made nearly impossible to get a dangerous weapon... Period. Follow the British example. And our leader must find a way to fight those state laws that allow people to carry weapons, either openly or concealed, in public areas. Schools, churches, offices, public parks, movie theaters... no more guns in the belts. Period. And I want to see a concerted effort to pull millions of guns out of homes, offices and bars, to be turned in for scrap. Even if we pay them to do it. Period. The madness must end... now!
I am writing this Huffington Post blog post on the Sunnday after the massacre. Much has now come out about the alleged shooter and his weaponry. I learned that the main damage was likely done by an AR-15 military assault weapon with a huge 100-bullet round drum clip. He bought 6,000 bullets on-line in the past two months, and then bought that rifle, a shotgun and two hand-held Glocks at local chain stores. There was no requirement for a background check! Although they claim they did one. I contacted the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence to get the latest figures on that subject, and they were horrifying. There are 10,000 gun murders in the United States each year. Each day 84 people die from a gunshot and 200 more are wounded. Each day! Every 15 minutes someone dies from a gunshot. And then they contrasted this with some other countries: Finland had 17 murders last year, Britain and Wales 39, Canada only 200, and we had 9,484.
A decade ago I wrote an article condemning the ending of the Assault Weapon Ban by Congress. You may remember that in 1994, after a bruising battle, Congress passed a law which banned all military-style assault semi-automatic weapons, along with extended ammunition clips and lethal rounds. The law was to run 10 years, and then be re-voted upon. Well, the rifle association did its work well, and in 2004 the law was dead. I then wrote that there is no earthly reason for anyone to own a semi-automatic military weapon except to murder someone else. It's not a sport. I am a fierce 2nd Amendment supporter, and over my lifetime I have owned a hunting rifle (when I was young and hunted rabbits) and a handgun, which had helped save my life in the Korean conflict. I enjoy skeet shooting at clubs when invited. I have spoken extensively to law-enforcement guys who, to a man (and women), are against the sale of such assault-military weapons, clips and ammunition. There is even a law banning these law-enforcement police from using such weapons! (They are too dangerous.) They can only have a gun with 13 bullets, unless it is a SWAT team. "We are outgunned on the streets daily," a NYC cop told me. Mayor Bloomberg came out Friday with a strong statement about gun control, saying it was time the two candidates spoke clearly and concisely about their plans for gun control. Don't hold your breath, Mr. Mayor. The NRA appears to be firmly in control of the Republican party. All wings of it. The Democrats are intimidated. And the only gun control action President Obama has taken in 3 ½ years is to allow the carrying of a concealed weapon in national parks! This despite his campaign promises. For shame. Money controls our democracy and public safety in our neighborhoods is one victim.
I don't minimize what we are up against: an organization with a budget of roughly $240 million a year, using fear and paranoia to prevent any reasonable enforcement of rules and regulations. The gun-manufacturing industry is a large part of the organization, and it is devoted to protecting their clients. The number of gun-owning families in America is diminishing, and that worries them. What am I proposing that Obama do with his decrees? Simple and practical. There are now 5,000 gun shows a year in 33 states -- shows that are considered privates sales and therefor require no background check when selling a weapon. So a reasonable, real background check must be conducted for all such gun sales. Over 700 mayors around the country, including 80 Republicans, came out for background checks on gun sales. The Supreme Court ruled that we cannot ban gun sales in toto, which no one wants anyway, but we can legally have reasonable and strict controls on such sales. Each state can pass an assault-weapon ban if it so chooses, but very few have done so. Twenty years ago California enacted the toughest gun-control legislation of any state. Remember the NRA spend $7 million in independent expenditures the last election. After the Colombine shooting near Aurora, the Colorado legislature passed some strict gun control laws (which might have prevented last week's shooting), but the NRA effectively killed all that legislation in a year.
I want a decree that bans high-capacity magazines for semi-automatic weapons. That Colorado shooter got off 50 shots in seconds with that magazine, reloaded and ended up shooting an estimated 71 people. No clips carrying more than 10 bullets, no massive clips. Period. These are not needed for 'sporting' events, these are practicing for murder pure and simple. And every gun made in the United States should have a micro-chip telling where and by whom it was made. The reason is evident. I would love to see a strict Federal ban on all gun trafficking (selling piles of gun to nefarious interests) but that has been blocked by gun lobbying. Remember, the NRA opposes any reasonable restriction on gun sales, although many of their individual members favor rational gun laws. I am realistic enough to realize that unless the face of Congress changes dramatically in the next election, we will not get a national gun-control law. The elected reps of both parties are too indebted to private monied interests to give the American public a law with teeth. The political process is corrupted and inept and that's just the way it is... which is why I am crying out for the next president (whomever he is) to take some drastic action by fiat, by decree, by mandate -- any way which works! Will it happen? We shall see... but it is up to every one of us to make our voices heard about this critical subject now. Before (and it will happen) another such massacre takes place. The Brady Center told me that there are at least 20 such massacres a year. Ånd who knows where you, your friends and family will be during the next one?
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